Leica Video Lenses

You probably didn’t know that Leica makes lenses for the motion picture and video industry. They do, under the CW Sonderoptic subsidiary, and they have for a long time. You’ll find that quite a few such Leica lenses, actually, and they’re labeled Leica Summilux-C (t/1.4 lenses) and Leica Summicron-C (t/2 lenses) and come with PL mounts (what most of the bigger video gear uses). 

Here at NAB SW Sonderoptic is introducing two new Summicron’s, the 40mm t/2 and the 15mm 5/2. This makes the full line of Leica cinema/video lenses look like this:

  • Summilux t/1.4: 16mm, 18mm, 21mm, 25mm, 29mm, 35mm, 40mm, 50mm, 65mm, 75mm, 100mm
  • Summicron t/2: 15mm, 18mm, 21mm, 25mm, 29mm, 35mm, 40mm, 50mm, 75mm, 100mm, 135mm

These lenses all have geared focus and aperture rings. The focus rotation is set for long pulls (300° from near to far), and the designs within a family are done to keep them near the same in length and diameter, making them easy to change without disrupting your rigging.

As you’d expect from Leica, these are precision, high-quality optics. CW Sonderoptic likes to describe the image quality produced by these lenses as “creamy sharpness,” and believes that they work especially well with rendering skin without sacrificing clarity. 

Personally, I’ve not used these lenses, so can’t say how they work in real productions. I don’t have a PL mount video camera. But you’ve seen the results from them. On US television, for instance, Summicron-C lenses were used on Mr. Robot and Criminal Minds. And Oliver Stone’s just released Snowden was also shot on Summicron-Cs. 

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